Archives For Bible

Do You Deny Sola Scriptura?

Erik Raymond —  November 18, 2014

Protestants speak of the term sola Scriptura as foundational to our understanding the Bible. But, what does it mean? And, why is it important?

The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. (John MacArthur via Ligonier)

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.” — Westminster Confession of Faith

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Whenever you set out to teach a topic you have a myriad of challenges in front of you. What does the Bible say? What have other teachers written about this? How does it apply? When someone attempts to do this well, that is faithfully and accessibly, it is a daunting task—for most of us. Kevin DeYoung, however, seems to be a bit different. He’s able to tackle complex and urgent matters faithfully and accessibly.

You could argue that the most pressing issue for the church is to be clear on is the Bible. What we need today is to have confidence in the authority, clarity and sufficiency of God’s Word. Thankfully, DeYoung grabbed his pen and went to work.

In his new book Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me, we have this pressing matter succinctly addressed. The book is short (a mere 146 pages) but it is not light nor unaccessible. And his is the beauty of it; a well-written, clear, helpful book on the Bible. DeYoung provides a systematic study, interacts with individual passages, works through implications, and shows how this doctrine has been historically regarded. In other words, he approaches the Bible from a systematic, exegetical, biblical, pastoral, and historical perspective of theology.

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Mudslides and Terra Firma

Erik Raymond —  March 26, 2014

Most of us, without much consideration assume that the ground that we stand on is secure. As we continue to hear the reports coming out of Washington state we are reminded that even the ground itself is not stable. As of today there are 14 people dead and nearly 200 missing as a result of a massive mudslide in Snowhomish County, Washington.

The stories and interviews are heart-wrenching. Surprising tragedies like this shake us. If the ground itself is not stable, what is?

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“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

You would expect a book that is divine and living would in fact be active, and so it is. Paul writes in 1 Thess. 2:13 that the word of God does work. Jeremiah writes: ““Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock into pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)
God’s word is powerful. The word translated here as powerful is the source of our word energy. It means to say that God’s word has God’s power, his energy.

Because it is God’s word, it is an undefeatable word. The Bible has all the essentials of the life and power of God to do his work! Isaiah says that the word of God does not return void; it does his work, powerfully so (Is. 55). The Word of God is powerful.

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The Words Are Still Wet

Erik Raymond —  September 19, 2012

The other day I walked into the gas station by my house and saw several editions of the morning paper in its bin. The trouble was it was the early evening–the news was over 12 hours old. Shortly the bin will be cleaned out making way for the new, news as the old news is discarded. We don’t want yesterday’s paper; we want today’s. Far from being relevant the paper is relegated to a functional purpose such as stuffing boxes or swatting flies.

Shortly after walking out of the gas station I picked up my Bible. I read of the news. It was reported over 2,000 years ago:

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Years ago my wife and I met a newlywed couple that provided us with no small amount of comic relief. This was seen starkly one day at a church meeting when we met them in the parking lot and the wind was at their back. We smelled garlic–a lot of garlic! As they approached it was overwhelming. Behind a full-toothed grin the new hubby said, “My wifey can cook!”

During the events of the morning we got disconnected. My wife and I tried to find them but were unsuccessful. That is, until my wife channelled her inner Sherlock, she said: “Pick up the garlic scent.” We found the trail of garlic and quickly tracked them down.

As Christians we understand that there is a difference between exposure to biblical truth and consumption of it. The difference of course is that it (the truth) gets down into you. It proliferates everything about you. It seeps into your heart. It reorientates your mind. It recalibrates what you love. It orders what you do. As a result of consuming biblical truth we leave a scent behind. Like my friends who walked among a hazy fog of garlic we as Christians should be leaving a refreshing incense cloud of the grace of Christ.

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We have flipped our calendars to the new year with excitement and optimism. And as Christians this means that Bible reading plans are making their rounds and are being gobbled up by well-intentioned, eager hands. I celebrate this as a good thing.

But hold on for a second, I have a quick question.

What did you read yesterday? No, not what chapter, but what did you read? What from God’s Word got ahold of you to produce a response? Did anything evoke conviction or delight? Did something particular from your reading explode in your heart with thanksgiving?

Hopefully the answer is yes. But too often the answer is, “Wait. Hold on. …I can’t remember.”

This reminds me of childhood trips to the dentist. Do you recall after the dentist put that horrific flouride treatment in your mouth? He then would spray in a bunch of water that you would lean over and (try to) spit in the small circular sink next to your head.

Sadly too many of us have a “swish and spit” devotional life. We grab a little Bible reading, swish it around in the morning, then spit it out on the way out the door. The treasures from the Word don’t get swallowed and digested but rather spit out quickly.

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 Broken-Down House is a book on Christian living by the prominent and helpful author Paul David Tripp. It is about living with the biblically informed mind of what this world is really like and who you are really like (with and without Christ). This quote about the Bible is helpful in reminding us of the reality of the Bible. It is for our world to bring us to the next.

I am more and more persuaded that when we characterize the Bible as a book about spirituality, we do it and ourselves a disservice. The Bible is not a higher-plan tome about some mystical life of spiritual devotion. It does not teach blissful separation from the brokenness of everyday life. No, the Bible is a book about this world. It is a gritty, honest book. When we read Scripture, we face the world as it actually is, in big-screen, high-def detail. God doesn’t pull any punches. He doesn’t paint over any cracks. He doesn’t flatter or avoid. There is no denial of what is real and true.

The sights and sounds of the Bible are familiar. They are the sights and sounds of the very same broken world you and I wake up to every day. Dirt and smoke are on every page. You can’t read very far without your nostrils and eyes being assaulted by the acrid air of the world gone bad. Let’s be straight here the world of the Bible stinks in many ways. Does it bother you when you read that? Does it come across to you as displaying a lack of faith? –Paul David Tripp, Broken Down House, pp. 26-27.

This is good. All Bibles are 45% at Westminster Books (through 29 Nov). I know a lot of people buy Bibles for friends and family over the Christmas season. Take a spin over to Westminster Books and look around. They have quite a selection on sale.

I am enjoying this book quite a bit. In this section the author, Tony Reinke, is thinking about the differences between the Bible and other types of literature. Even more, he is working through how the Bible informs our reading of other books.

Scripture is the ultimate grid by which we read every book. Scripture is perfect, sufficient, and eternal. All other books, to some degree, are imperfect, deficient, and temporary. That means that when we pick books from the bookstore shelves, we read those imperfect books in light of the perfect Book, the deficient books in light of the sufficient Book, and the temporary books in light of the eternal Book. Man-made literature may be inspiring, but it is not divinely inspired—not in the way Scripture is inspired. Man-made literature may be empowered by the Holy Spirit to embody biblical truth, but it’s not breathed out by God. Man-made literature may contain truth, goodness, and beauty, but it is also fallible, imperfect, and of temporary value.

We could say that in contrast to God’s word all other books are temporary.

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke

I constantly find myself trying to tweak our family devotional routine. With 6 kids ranging from 3 months to 16 we have to make about as many adjustments as an NFL defense. This is good, it keeps you sharp.

One area that I have found repeatedly beneficial is the practice of asking questions. You may be thinking, “That is not very profound there brother.” And you may be right. But, it is also true that we often forget to ask questions, or at least ask them in an intentional manner.

Too often, teachers in general and dads in particular can get caught up in merely giving information. It is obviously very important that we give the information but it is also important that our family get the information.

One way that we can ensure that our family is getting it is to ask them questions as we are reading and teaching the passage.

Here are some helps in asking better questions.

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Promises, Promises

Erik Raymond —  June 13, 2011

(This is a guest post by my 15-year-old son, Bryce.)

Presidents have always made promises while they run for office. Many times these promises are so huge, so attractive, and their only purpose is to obtain more votes. But when they are actually elected, they seem to have a completely different agenda than before, and the promises are not kept.

This is a trademark of the leaders of this world. Deception, even lies, are simply the way to win.

Everybody knows this, everybody accepts this. This is why when Jesus says in Matt. 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” It seems like the big daddy of all promises. Jesus is saying this while on the earth, in human form. He says that when this world is destroyed, his words will still stand true.

What are the implications of this?

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One of the great Seinfeld moments is when Kramer and Jerry are up in the observation deck watching a surgery. In a legendary moment Kramer fumbles a junior mint and it inadvertently falls into the man who is undergoing surgery. This comical scene provides an illustrative picture of where I need to be focused during my own time in the Scriptures.

Personal Bible study and the corporate attendance of the preaching of the Word of God are highlights and matchless joys for Christians. There is something truly special, even divine, about the reality of sitting under the authority of the Word of God.

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Get Ready!

Get ready, it’s coming.  This week you’ll see a flurry of blogs, news articles, and TV spots about the man who predicts the end of the world will happen this Saturday, May 21st.    That’s right, Harold Camping of Family Radio says that he has singlehandedly figured out that the Bible says the world will end next Saturday.  Our friend and Christian apologist, James White, has written extensively and even debated Camping over his false prophecies.  You can read about it here and here.

Our immediate reaction to such nonsense might be to recoil and merely cast him aside as another nut that isn’t worth our time.  However, I don’t think that’s the right reaction.  Instead, we should be intentionally looking to redeem this opportunity to preach the truth.

What should we say to our friends and family?  Here are five suggestions:

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Jesus Read his Bible

Erik Raymond —  April 19, 2011

It is the most common answer to one of the most common questions that Christians ask one another. Someone asks, “How can I be praying for you?”  Then we answer, “That I would be more disciplined in reading the Word.”

We know that this is the right answer. We also know our shortcomings in this area.

Therefore, it is as instructive as it is convicting to consider how quickly, regularly, and profoundly flips to the Bible for his answers. We are all familiar with his battle with Satan in the wilderness where Jesus quotes the Scriptures, slicing up the enemy like Zorro (Matt. 4.1-11). He does the same to Satan’s lieutenants and Bible teachers, the Scribes and Pharisees (cf. Mark 7.1-23). They keep after him and he keeps returning fire with the Bible.

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For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (1 Peter 1.16-17)

Would you not have loved to have been there on the Mountain with Peter? No doubt it would be the highlight of our lives to see the glory of Christ in such a dazzling manner and to hear the words of God affirming him.

It is interesting to consider how the Apostle Peter later wrote about this event.

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In our house we make a big deal out of sermon notes. The point is not just to be a recorder of the information but to be writing down things that are helpful and impactful. The end goal is for the kids to process the information in such a way that they enter into the narrative, so to speak. The sermon notes are intended to be a part of a larger journal that highlight their own spiritual journey of understanding and interacting with the Scritpures.

This past week our little 9 yr old Alaynah showed me her notes. I was pretty encouraged with how she had worked through the narrative of chapter 8.31-34. She also pushed on through to personal application later, which was a great time of rejoicing for Mom & Dad. God is good to use his Word so powerfully, even to impact young hearts.

If you can’t read it in the picture this is what it says:

Deny Yourself (Mark 8.33)

Peter pulls Jesus aside and sess “no how boute you go to your kingdom and live happly ever after but scip the cross OKAY” Jesus says “get behind me saten! this is my plan that God sent me to do. “well you need to think about what you just said” “NO! I do not you do. If you want to come with me pic up your cross and walk behind me.”

So what will you do pik up your cross or die and go to hell?

heaven or hell

I am a christian!

I’m still smiling.

A Bible Reading Movement

Erik Raymond —  August 18, 2010

As a pastor I long for the Bible to take a hold of people. But this is not simply a pastoral burden. All Christians love Christ, his word, and his glory. As a result, I am sure that a quote like the one included below kind of gets your heart beating and mind racing. There is great appeal here:

“Imagine if all Christians, as a part of their discipleship, were caught up in a web of regular Bible reading–not only digging into the word privately, but reading it with their children before bed, with their spouse over breakfast, with a non-Christian colleague at work once a week over lunch, with a new Christian for follow-up once a fortnight for mutual encouragement, with a mature Christian friend once a month for mutual encouragement.

It would be a chaotic web of personal relationships, prayer and Bible reading–more of a movement than a program–but at another level it would be profoundly simple and within reach of all.” –Marshall & Payne, The Trellis and The Vine, p. 57.

For many of us this starts in the home with Dads or Husbands leading like they ought to. Just take the Bible, open it up, and start reading. You don’t need 3 points, illustrations, or a conclusion. What we really need to do is just read and talk about what we read. You can do this tonight when you go home.

This can also happen in the sphere of Christian friendships. Just make it a priority. Same thing applies here within the workplace; you can make it a priority to talk with folks about the Scriptures.

Sidenote- These two posts might help with family devotions & workplace engagement:

>Helping You Lead Family Devotions
>Why I Don’t Evangelize

If you are like me you might begin to become so familiar with God’s promises that they become residual and assumed. You might even feel somewhat uncomfortable praising God for doing what he has always said that he would do.

For example, Jesus speaks of God’s sovereign, loving faithfulness to his sheep:

(Joh 10.28-29)  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

This is amazing. God powerfully, lovingly, faithfully, keeps those to whom he has given to Christ. They will not and cannot be lost, dropped, fumbled, expelled, discarded or plundered.

Why is this? Because in Christ God is for us.

So do we assume this promise? Do we become comfortable with this promise? The fact that God promises this and does this should not cause us to become apathetic or indifferent. Instead, the promising God who keeps his word should cause us to become humbled, thankful and evermore confident in his word! In other words, God’s promises must not engender apathy but ignite praise.

Shame on us as Christian for stuffing our notebooks, journals and minds with these various proof texts without allowing them to be fermenting in our hearts and spoken in our prayer closets. Let us bring this sacred dynamite into our hands, hearts, and minds that it might be shaking off the dust of apathy and familiarity.

We all have blind spots. We have our issues. Whether we are talking about personal, social, or theological blind spots, we have them. And to say you don’t, is to, well, make my point.

The important thing for us to look for said weaknesses, identify them and replace them. This is living life as a fallen sinner it is reality.

But sometimes our blind spots are our hobby horses. And this is a problem.

I can remember arguing about abortion with a friend who is pro-choice. In the midst of the discussion (it was civil) he called me out on my flippancy concerning life in the various wars that the US is involved in. He had a point. My issue was inconsistent. I had a blind spot.

Outspoken Bible Guys
I think there are people who are outspoken in their passion and devotion to the Bible. They are proponents of taking the Bible literally, being black or white and trying their best to obey what it says. We might call them evangelicals, fundamentalists, or simply Protestants. There really are many names and stripes available.

These guys (and ladies) will rightly go after those who compromise the Scriptures. They call out those who deny the Bible’s inspiration and inerrancy. They oppose people who inject their ministries with pragmatic methods. They decry the moral compromise in and around the professing church. All of this to say, no one would accuse them of being unbiblical. In fact, this is their cry, “we are just being biblical.”

And quite frankly, I praise God for many of these folks. They are an encouragement in so many ways.

But at the same time, too often, they are a discouragement.

How is this possible?

Assuming the Gospel
It is possible because too often these hard core biblicists simply assume the gospel. Jesus is not emphasized as the means and motivation for rightesouness. Instead Christianity becomes a laboratory to apply biblical principles. Sanctification is rooted in a striving to do and be better.

Slowly but surely Jesus, his dying and doing for sinners, gets benched for my living and doing for God.

You can tell you are in one of these settings when you listen to Christians pray (cf Luke 18). They often talk about how bad everyone else is vs how bad they are. They talk about how much better they want to be rather than how great Christ is. The gospel may receive a hat tip but it is not the great ocean that satisfies our thirsty hearts and supplies our tears. It is just assumed. There is a lot of ‘God-talk’, ‘Bible-talk’…but very little Jesus-gospel-sin–talk.

Painful Irony
There is a painfully ironic contradiction here. See, on the one hand you have the hard-core, committed, Bible-guy…he is sold out to the Bible. And he will quickly channel his ‘inner-Saul’ and chuck spears at anyone who is not on the same page with him (1Sam 18.10-11). After all, they are compromisers. These are the guys who have conferences, watch-blogs, and sermons dedicated to taking out famous gospel-editors and biblical compromisers.

But here is the irony: too often the most ‘biblical’ folks are the most ‘unbiblical’. What do I mean by this? I mean that if the whole point of the Bible is the person and work of Jesus and you fail to make this your whole point in your life, preaching, writing, conferences, etc…then you have missed the point! And, in this case, your blind spot is glaring. You are undermining yourself!! These folks are so ‘biblical’ that they are unChristian!

I am not talking about semantics here. This is far bigger than this. Remember, it was the hard-core biblicists that had a jacked up Christology and ended up killing Jesus. If you are reading the Old Testament like a 1st Century Jew then you have a veil upon your eyes (2 Cor. 3). And if you are using Jesus to be your vehicle towards morality then you are just like the Galatians.

Our whole lives are to be calibrated by and anchored in the gospel. It is this that is of first importance (1 Cor. 15.1-3). To assume it, marginalize it, eclipse it, or ignore it IS just as bad as editing it.

How much do you emphasize the person and work of Christ? If you are a pastor, could your sermons be preached by a Muslim? a Roman Catholic? a Jew? or any other ‘moral’ monotheist? Or worse, could a Mormon preach your sermons?

If we are preaching the doing and dying of Jesus and not just a bunch of principles anchored in a moral code then you would offend them. But if you are not then be sure, you are offending God.